Thursday, November 15, 2018

That Four Letter Word

"When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, ...dissension, division, ENVY, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these."  Gal. 5:19-21a NLT

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives."  Gal. 5: 24 NLT

Boy, do theses verses really smack me in the face. With Christmas just around the corner, I find myself slipping into my flesh and losing my focus on my Lord. It's not like I'm going to keep Christ out of Christmas or give into drunkenness or go to wild parties, which another version calls orgies. But that four letter word, "envy", comes creeping in.

After all, we all know when you have a loved one with a severe or sometimes even not so severe mental health concern that your family isn't "normal". I’d sometimes get sick of making special accomodations for my family member or missing a party because it was too difficult for him, her, or someone else in the family to be there. I didn't want to hear it again, "Just make them come". Don't get me wrong.  Sometimes I had to "make them come." But other times, it's a bad idea to force a situation on my family.  It even gets harder when they’re in the throws of a psychological episode that coincides with a holiday and out of touch with reality for a time. I longed for "normal" or even some semblance of "normal".

When I think of one particular Christmas several years ago, while one of my son's was living at a halfway house, I remember making cookies for the guys and how some of them didn't have anywhere to go for Christmas. My not so normal Christmas was looking pretty good from their perspective. I was fretting over not seeing all of my kids at the same time while they were not seeing anyone. I always get myself into trouble when I play the comparison game with those that I think have a happy, well adjusted, Christmas card kind of family. I focus on those that have what looks like the "perfect" family. So while I'm focusing on them, I can't focus on God and there in is the problem.  

Then, I read that last verse about how, if I belong to Christ Jesus, I've nailed this sin to the cross. Whenever I am letting envy get even the tiniest foothold I am blocking the Holy Spirit from leading that part of my life. Can I say, OUCH? Over the past few years I’ve gotten better at not focusing on envy and keeping my focus on what this holiday season is all about. I know I’ve got a ways to go, but when I let go of those pie in the sky unrealistic dreams of my perfect family and let the Spirit lead me my Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every other day, it’s so much better. I’m sure it will be better for you too. We all just need to stop trying to lead our lives and let the Holy Spirit lead us. Then Envy has no power.